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The California Institute of Regenerative Medicine was created in 2004 to fund stem cell research, after the federal government stopped paying for most experiments with human embryos. Now the state agency is considering underwriting another controversial use of embryos that the federal government won’t support — editing their genes.
Officials of the state agency, known as CIRM, discussed guidelines and safeguards for this type of research last week at a meeting of an internal committee that evaluates standards for research funding but made no decision about supporting such work. A new gene-editing technology called CRISPR-Cas9 has revolutionized biomedical research and is thought to hold great promise for eventually helping scientists cure hereditary ailments such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease.
Laws about embryo research are in flux around the globe, as nations struggle to keep up with quickly changing science. Following the first official government approval of an experiment that would alter human embryo DNA — in the United Kingdom last week — scientists there might soon use the cells during the first two weeks of embryonic development to study genetic factors in infertility.
This kind of research is legal in the United States, but the National Institutes of Health said last year that it won’t fund research involving gene editing of human embryos, eggs, or sperm. Changes to these “germline” genes are inherited by offspring.
Read full, original post: California considers funding controversial research: editing genes in human embryos